January can be a drag. The holidays are over, but the biting cold still remains. While we can fulfill our fitness resolutions in 2015 with trips to the gym, our dogs cannot as easily maintain an active and healthy life when it is too cold to brave a long walk or a trip to the park. In lieu of that predicament, PetFirst offers some ideas and tips to engage your dog in active play indoors.
- Food-dispensing toys: Many options exist on the market, and these toys encourage not only mild physical play, but mental stimulation as well. Food-dispensing toys exist for dogs of all sizes, and there are some available for cats as well.
“Pets respond well to rewards,” said Fran Mitchell, claims manager at PetFirst. “It’s why we use treats to help them learn new behaviorsand food-dispensing toys encourage the pet to work for the treat by figuring out the puzzle of releasing it. My dog, Peanut, loves having his KONG toy filled with peanut butter.”
- Puppy play-date: This is a great substitute for a visit to the park because it allows for social interaction with other canines and encourages physical activity and excitement. Take turns with a fellow pet-parent to host the date once a week. Make sure to “dog-proof” the house to accommodate rowdy antics.
- Teach your dog to play hide-and-seek: Not only is this easy to teach to your canine counterpart, but the game keeps your dog physically and mentally engaged. Hide in a place where you are partially visible and when your dog approaches, give him a rewarding treat. Move around to different and increasingly difficult hiding spots, rewarding your dog for his hard work when he finds you.
- Fetch: This might seem to be counter-intuitive. Fetch is an outdoor game, right? If your home has long hallways to accommodate the game, throwing a tennis ball to the end of the hallway and having Fido bring it back is a game your pet will not quickly tire of. Additionally, this good old-fashioned game provides plenty of exercise.
- Tug-of-war: Another classic, this game keeps your pet—and yourself—physically active. Be careful to use a rope or toy that will not harm teeth. You can combine this game with fetch by throwing the toy to the end of the hallway when you “win” the tug-of-war. When your tail-wagging friend brings it back, begin the tug-of-war again.
- Teach a new trick: A quick internet search reveals instructions, videos and ideas for teaching your dog a wide array of new and interesting tricks. Teaching a new trick prevents your dog from falling into sluggish boredom during the cold months and provides a great learning activity.
No matter the weather, it is important to keep our pups active so they remain healthy. With cold temperatures, winter months promote inactivity and sluggishness, but you can spend active time with your canine friend indoors.